Ukraine-Russia war: US says Iran is now Russia’s ‘main military backer’
BBC News by Elsa Maishman and Sam Hancock
The US has said that relations between Russia and Iran have warmed to become a full-fledged defense partnership.
US National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said that Russia is providing unprecedented levels of military support.
The US has seen reports that the two countries plan to jointly develop lethal drones, he adds.
The move comes after Ukraine accused Iran of supplying Russia with the kamikaze drones used in the deadly attacks on October 17, which Tehran initially denied.
The Middle Eastern country later admitted sending a limited number of drones to Moscow “a few months” before the war.
In response, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said that this was a lie and that more Iranian drones were used.
Ukraine’s Air Force said it shot down 10 of 15 drones used to attack southern regions early Saturday.
In an evening speech, Zelensky said the strikes had left more than 1.5 million people without electricity in Odessa, adding that it could take several days to restore power.
Earlier, Australia announced sanctions against three Iranians and an Iranian company for supplying Russia with drones for use against Ukraine.
Speaking on Friday, Mr. Kirby said a partnership between Iran and Russia to build drones would be harmful to Ukraine, Iran’s neighbors and the international community.
“Russia is eager to cooperate with Iran in areas such as weapons development and training,” he said, adding that the United States is concerned that Russia intends to provide Iran with “advanced military components, including helicopters and air defense systems.”
“Iran has become the main military base of Russia…” he added. “Russia uses Iranian drones to attack the energy infrastructure, depriving millions of Ukrainians of electricity, heat and essential services. Today, people in Ukraine are dying because of Iran’s actions.”
In response to Kirby’s comments, British Foreign Minister James Cleverly said that Iran has become one of Russia’s main military backers, and relations between the two countries threaten global security.
According to him, “good deals” between the two countries have seen Iran send hundreds of drones to Russia.
“In return, Russia offers military and technical support to the Iranian regime, which increases the risk it poses to our partners in the Middle East and to international security.”
He added that the UK had agreed with the US that Iran’s support for the Russian military would increase in the coming months as Russia sought to acquire more weapons, including hundreds of ballistic missiles.
Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong said in a statement on Saturday: “The supply of drones to Russia is evidence of Iran’s role in destabilizing global security. This list highlights that those who provide financial support to Russia will face consequences.”
It also announced measures against 19 other individuals and two institutions, including Iranian vice police, for their brutal treatment of anti-government demonstrators following the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in custody earlier this month.
- After months of deadly fighting in the eastern region of Donbas, Russia has turned the Ukrainian city of Bakhmut into a “burnt ruin,” President Zelensky said.
- According to the UN, Belarus will allow the transit of Ukrainian grain intended for export from Lithuanian ports through its territory.
- Oleksandra Matviichuk of the Center for Civil Liberties, the director of the Ukrainian human rights organization, which was jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize this year, called on the nations to establish an international tribunal to try Russian President Vladimir Putin for the war in Ukraine. .
- Yan Rachinsky, a Russian human rights defender of the “Memorial” organization, who received the award this year, told the BBC that the Russian authorities ordered him to refuse the award.
- The International Olympic Committee said it will study the proposal to allow Russian and Belarusian athletes to participate in sports competitions held in Asia, despite the international ban.